Tuesday, December 26, 2006


I am not given to daytime snoozing, but by Boxing Day I am usually well and truly ready for a moderate Nana-nap. I have just had an hour or two of "time out". Now I feel I must record some of the lovely spirit and joy of our Christmas Day before it all evaporates in the face of the challenges and fresh directions of the New Year.

We had an early start, though funnily enough it was a friend of DS4 who woke us at 5 a.m., wanting Ed to give him a lift home. I am not sure that Ed had been home very long himself, no doubt catching up with mates after a year away.

Ham and eggs were enjoyed on the patio, interrupted by a loud explosion, which turned out to be one of my bottles of ginger beer in the outside cupboard.

Gift opening took ages, with 14 people joning in. Emily (10) had a big job delivering them to all corners of the loungeroom!

During the morning, there were presents to enjoy, including a new Kareoke set.... and a pool!

The later part of the morning was spent preparing a very traditional Christmas lunch for 16. I must confess that as one tries to juggles all those different dishes in rather limited oven space, one is tempted by the idea of prawns and a barbie adopted by many nowadays. But I had Kim, Miriam and Tina all lending a hand, and it all turned out fine.
We tucked into pork, turkey, potatoes, kumera, pumpkin, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, carrots, stuffing and gravy, much of it homegrown. Then we had traditional Christmas pudding, and a delicious icecream Christmas cake made by Christene.
But we quite forgot the Christmas crackers, which will be put away for next year!

Rod, our Chaplain, and wife Christene joined us for lunch, and enjoyed the relaxed and happy family atmosphere. We took the opportunity of asking Rod to give thanks on behalf if all us for God;s wonderful gifts and blessings.

Brandt's 20 litres of home brew, which had only been "on tap" for a day or two, ran out during the afternoon. But in spite of all the eating and drinking, the younger ones still had the energy for games of cricket on the front lawn.

The rest of us watched and cheered from the "Members' Stands".

It was all too much for Digby, who decided to soak up the late afternoon sun.
I would have to say it was one of the loveliest Christmases ever! I hope yours was very special too.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


"Devon" is overflowing with family, laughter and chatter, and preparations for tomorrow. Although I must say that I have come to realise that the preparations are just as important as the day itself, because it is all over so quickly. Some years ago I made up my mind to enjoy and treasure those times in the lead up to Christmas, and never to complain about being too busy or hassled. If it is not enjoyable, then it is not worth doing.
I pace myself at Christmastime, and as I buy and wrap gifts, or prepare food, or decorate the house, I find it is helpful and important to focus on why I am doing it, and who I am doing it for.
So far there are nine of us in the house so far. Miriam is home from NZ with friend Rob, and Emily(10). Sarah(12) will come in the new year. Tina and Brandt are here for an extended stay with young Teddy (3 1/2) and Sienna (15 mths).
Ed comes from Sydney today. I have not seen him for 12 months. The other boys are popping in all hours of the day and night, and Kim is enjoying all the family activity too. Next year, she and Charles will have their very own family, with their baby due in April.
We girls are going to decorate the Yule logs today. This is a CB family tradition. I will try to post some pictures later.
The best part of Christmas for me will be the Midnight Service tonight at the Chapel, and the few quiet hours before and after. That is when I sit back, usually in the candlelight, play special Christmas carols, sip on Chocolate peppermint tea, and count my blessings.
I have actually kept the decorations low key this year. But one new addition is this wall hanging that I worked on during the year. It is not my usual style, but I spent many relaxing hours working on the embroidery.
So enjoy your Christmas Eve. Focus on the good things. Enjoy the decorations, the food and the pressies, but remember that people are more important than material things.
And take time out to remember what it is all about........God reaches out to man, sending the Lord Jesus, so that we may know love, hope joy and peace....in abundance.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Charles shouted Kim and me to a Gingerbread Cottage workshop at the Community Church on Saturday afternoon.

There were lots of people there, including several young people accompanied by mothers, grandmothers and even one Dad! Everyone had great fun, whatever their age!

The basic building materials were supplied....pre-baked gingerbread walls and roof panels, a silver board base, a bag of royal icing, and a selection of lollies for decoration.

All we needed to do was actually construct the house and decorate it.

Easier said than done.

The gingerbread was a little soft, and apt to break unless handled very carefully. The humidity didn't help!

However, I forged ahead with my little model, and all was going well, until it started to wobble. I "shored up" the walls on the inside with some musticks, but to no avail. The roof, perhaps somewhat top-heavy with icing and M&M's, started to cave in.

My board was a mess of dried scraps of icing, as was the floor around me! It was really quite funny. Eventually I just gave up, and gathered up the rest of my lollies and put them inside the collapsing walls.

Most people managed to complete their cottages, which were then tastefully wrapped in cellophane for transport and gifting. I was a little too embarrassed to take mine up for wrapping, but Kim did that for me...after all, it was the only way I could get it home without dropping it everywhere.

Once we were home, I got some pictures first, then broke my cottage into biscuit size pieces,mingled with the lollies, in a jar. The family is already enjoying picking at it as they pass the pantry!

It really was great fun...and I may try it at home some time. Or perhaps I will stick to sewing!

Kim's artistic construction is shown at the top...I know that our visiting children are really going to enjoy it!

But mine will still taste as good!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

One of the traditional crafts that has been handed down on Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands is the art of plaiting. Both plaiting and weaving, using traditional and local materials, are skills that have provided the peoples of Polynesia and Melanesia with the means to create both useful and decorative items such as baskets, mats and hats.

Norfolk Island is no exception, and the skills of plaiting have been handed down from generation to generation. Traditionally, the most common items produced are hats, but other articles are made too. Materials most commonly used here include moo-oo (flax), ra-hoo-loo(banana bark) and corn husk.

Dianne Buffett learned plaiting skills from an older relative, Mrs Mary Joe Nobbs, as a young girl, and has gone on to produce many beautiful items. Now she has decided to record some of the history and techniques in a beautiful book called "Plaiting in Paradise." It is a book that truly conveys Dianne's passion for this part of Norfolk's culture.

On Sunday afternoon, a large crowd of Norfolkers gathered on Dianne's lawn for the launching of her book. It was a glorious afternoon, and the afternoon tea was elegantly served in the marquee, and was much enjoyed as everyone chatted and enjoyed the lovely setting.

Dianne's younger daughter Levina took charge of the proceedings, which was fitting, because she was responsible for the beautiful artwork and graphic design in producing the publication. Di's brother David performed the task of actually launching the book, cutting the pink "ribbon" around the special copy.

There were long queues to purchase copies of the book, and to have Di sign them. Each book came with a very special plaited bookmark. I believe there will be copies in many a Christmas stocking this Christmas!

The book not only covers the different types of plait, including the one known as the "Norfolk plait", but describes the gathering and the preparation of the materials, and the steps involved in sewing the plait into a hat or some other item.

Interestingly, this traditional women's skill has been taken up by today by a generation of younger men. They have taken the craft in new directions, exploring different media, forms and embellishments. They are true artisans, and I know the older women are delighted to see their skills and craft being kept alive in this way. It is hoped that Dianne's book, with its clear diagrams, will inspire many other young people to take up and develop these important cultural traditions.

I cannot resist showing a few pictures of Norfolkers enjoying the ambience of the occasion.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The other day, I went in search of a little pig.
Not the real, live variety...we actually have a few of those around.
No, we needed just a little china pig to add to the Nativity crib.
Our crib has been growing over at least three decades.
When we first started it, you could buy beautiful pieces of Lladro porcelain here for as little as $5-$15, and some of the basic figures were bought at this time.
Over the years we have added to the Nativity scene. Some of the pieces we have inherited, one or two probably came from jumble sales, and a couple were received as gifts. Every now and then, there is a new animal that we really feel should be there, and that is why we acquired the Chihuahua and the Dalmatian (both of which we number among the family pets.)
I had set up the Crib on the mantlepiece for this year's Christmas season, and as we sat with a quiet drink admiring it, Bernie asked "Do you think we need another animal?"
We both agreed that it would be lovely to have a little pig there to greet the Christchild.
The next morning, I went looking for a pig. I eventually found a lovely Beswick Tamworth sow. She was magnificent..and so was the price. Perhaps she was a litle too grand and showy, anyway, and would put all the other more subdued creatures in the shade. So I kept looking, but nothing seemed quite the right style or size.
I was about to return to the original store and splurge on this lovely sow, but decided to return home and consult with Bernie first. As it turned out, he had been to the shop just before me, and had bought this dear little piglet. He has such a cheeky and playful expression on his face, and I am certain the Baby Jesus would have been delighted to watch his antics! So I have placed him right in the centre at the front.

The family have been quick to remind me that Jesus was born into a Jewish family, and pork would have been a no-no! But pigs are among the most endearing of God's creatures.

Now that reminds me...there is no cat around the manger. Perhaps next year!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Norfolk Island has an extremely active (and busy) Community Arts Society. I think that is probably a feature of small communities, and the opportunities to see each others' work and bounce ideas off each other is far easier than in a larger community. There are probably more opportunities, too, for budding artists and creators to gain some exposure, and just show what they can do!
And there is no shortage of creative people on this island. No doubt our unique culture, history and environment provide plenty of inspiration, but I am always amazed at the rich variety of themes and media used to express people's view of the island.
There were well over 100 entries in this year's exhibition, covering an enormous array of media...painting, photography, prints, decoupage, weaving, carving, metalwork, patchwork, woodwork, pottery and porcelain and many others.
One of the most fascinating exhibits was Kathryn Parles "mobile" featuring 1000 paper cranes. Many of you will be familiar with the story from Japan and the paper cranes, and their link with peace and healing. Well, Kathryn's cranes were miniature...about 2 cm wide, and strung together with beads in a wonderfully mind-blowing arrangement. My pictures do not do it justice!

Now yours truly usually manages to put a few things in the exhibition each year, but it is a long time since they have had anything other than NFS (Not for sale) next to them in the catalogue. I don't know if it is because I am too attached to them, they are too personal, or if I simply lack the courage, and am not sure if people would actually be interested in owning them. One thing I do know is that I could never put on a price that truly reflected the input of time and materials alone, let alone the creative input. But that is OK....I will continue to enjoy producing my works, giving them away to special people, and leaving the others around the house hanging on door knobs, sitting on side tables etc. (And yes, quite a few stuck away in drawers.)

My entries this year included three cushions and a wallhanging.The hanging is called "Judith's Pool", an acknowledgement to Judith Baker Montano who provided the inspiration. The dragonfly cushion resulted from a Round Robin with some NZ ladies in the Southerncrosscrazies email group. The middle cushion is a lace collage, arranged around a woven silk picture of a fairy (from a Cash's card.) It is embellished with lots of beads, embroidery and more lace. The third cushion is called "Shades of Shabby Chic", and the colours remind me of my mother, who was really right into "Shabby Chic" even though she had never heard of it.

One thing I have found really interesting is that the most positive comments and feedback on my entries has actually come from men, who seem to have been captured by the intricacy and detail and the way the elements have been combined. Maybe that is something that we females take for granted!

One thing I am determined to do this year is to develop a means of presenting my work within a frame. Alison from the Community Arts Society is encouraging me to do this. As she says, a frame immediately enhances the value and appeal of the work. I feel it would also help me to focus a little more on composition and design, which are not my strongest points.

Who knows..next year my entries may even have a price next to them?

I will finish with a picture of Elaine Nobbs' "Meandering Book" which she started in a workshop with Mixed Media Artist Carolyn Stephens. It is just so precious and special, and I could spend hours with it just enjoying the detail!

Monday, December 04, 2006

I try not to grumble, because Blogger provides a wonderful service to all of us who like our five minutes of fame. Five years ago I just could not have imagined having the opportunity to record my thoughts and experiences in a form that can be, and is, accessed all over the world. I have not left this island for 2 1/2 years, but I have travelled all over the world through the Internet, and communicated with some wonderful and interesting people.
But Blogger definitely has the grumps just now, and I do not know if I can even publish this.
So come on Blogger.....fix the problem...I am getting withdrawal symptoms! And so are the people who are used to accessing my blogs every two or three days! I have to tell them I am having problems, and cannot upload my pictures...and what is a blog without something visual?
Oh well, I will try to be patient and hope the problem is fixed soon!

Thursday, November 30, 2006


For as long as anyone can remember, Norfolk Island has celebrated Thanksgiving. In the 1800's and earliest 1900's, the American whalers would call in to Norfolk Island at the start of the whaling season for supplies, and often their wives would choose to stay on the island while the menfolk went off on their whaling hunts. During these times, these women had a great deal of contact with Norfolk's local women, and passed on many of their recipes, such as the custard pies which are very traditional on this island.
Another tradition passed on by these American visitors was that of celebrating Thanksgiving Day. While the United States celebrates it on the fourth Thursday in November, Norfolk Island celebrates it on the last Wednesday of that month. On Norfolk Island, special services are held in the island's churches. It is not the Autumn Harvest type festival that our American cousins know, nevertheless the churches are still beautifully decorated with cornstalks and seasonal produce, as well as the tall agapanthus flowers which are in bloom at this time. After the service, the produce is either sold or auctioned.

After church yesterday, we organised a potluck Thanksgiving lunch at "Devon", and we had a most wonderful afternoon, with about 50 people, young and old, coming along to join us. The food was just amazing, and we needed the two long tables just for the savoury dishes, while the sweets filled the big kitchen table.Our dear friend Nancy, who visits 2 or 3 times a year from Florida, was happy to make up for the Thanksgiving she had missed at home by joining in with ours. nancy saud the homegrown turkey, killed and cooked by Arthur, brought back nostalgic memories of her younger days!

Along with the turkey and ham, we had a big pot of freshly cooked corn that had been stripped from the stalks decorating the church earlier! We also had teo big bowls of Tahitian fish, made from fish that had been caught last weekend. Most of us ran out of room on our plates long before we reached the end of the table!

In this picture, Nancy is sharing a table with Jill, one of the many friends she has made on her frequent visits to this island.

After lunch, our Kim had organised some games and prizes for the children, and they had a great time, as did the adults and also the dogs and Cloud the cat.

There was cricket.....and rounders!

There was a sack race.

Then they had a three legged race, with some of the pairs very unevenly matched! Roany the dao became quite perturbed about seeing people with their legs tied together!
While that was going on, Uncle Tom quietly hid some "treasure" in the woodland, and is seen here giving the older kids some last minute instructions!
Stan and Ralph enjoy a quiet chat and a cuppa at the end of a perfect day.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

At this time of year, one realises that it is time to do a little bit of "forward thinking" for the Christmas season. This is especially important for us here at Devon, because we are looking forward to having at least nine extra people staying in the house during Christmas week, and that is without counting those in Devon Cottage and Devonside. It is going to be such a happy and busy time, with lots of little ones and young people giving us a real boost with their energy and creative enthusiasm.
But it means that I must really get stuck into the creative side of the preparations NOW!
I have made a start with a "batch" of little bags or pouches.

These tiny bags are from a pattern in "Omiyage", a lovely book of ideas for trinkets in fabric, Japanese style.

The pattern for these is just so simple......you just start out with two large triangles of fabric in contrasting colours and sew them back to back. You then fold back each corner, and sew a line of stitching about 1 cm from the folds...this will be the channel for a cord later. You then fold each side from the middle and sew...these form the sides of the bag. Then you thread cord through, and voila, a little bag that looks like a little flower.

Mind you, it will not hold very much. But with a pretty handkerchief tucked inside, or perhaps 3 or 4 wrapped choccies, or even a necklace or bracelet, they will make lovely little gifts at Christmastime.

Now I am off to think about starting a ginger beer plant, and gathering together Christmas pudding ingredients. Oh yes.....I mustn't forget that batch of fabric patchwork Christmas stockings that did not quite get finished last year!!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The best stories of history are the ones you hear first hand from those who have lived through them.
The other day at the White Oaks Club, we were chatting about the Island's two piers, Cascade and Kingston. Situated on opposite sides of the island, both are very old, but they have been a lifeline to this island since its first beginnings. In this day and age, when we import so many goods by sea, including food supplies, from Australia and New Zealand and other parts of the world, we tend to forget that there were times when Norfolk Island was quite an exporter of produce.
In the earliest penal settlement, it was hoped that Norfolk Island could become something of a "breadbasket" for the main settlement in Sydney, and in spite of some early difficulties, this island was able to supply many of the needs of the settlement....including coffee, which is being trialled as a cash crop today.
Gilbert Jackson is one of our senior citizens who has worked very hard to create a good life for his family here on his island homeland, and who has served the community as an elected member of the island's government. He frequently comes up with some really interesting reminiscences about earlier days on this island.
Gilbert told us he remembers a time back in the early thirties when the pier at Cascade, and the area behind it would be so crowded that there would not be an inch of room to move. In those days, the "Hinemoa" from New Zealand would call in every fortnight, and would take on board supplies of fruit and vegetables to take back to the markets in New Zealand. When word got round that the ship was in, the islanders would gather together their excess produce....oranges and other citrus, bananas, and sweet potatoes mainly.... and take it down to the pier. Gilbert says you could hardly move for all the people, the horses and carts and the crates and boxes. No doubt it provided some very useful cash for household goods and the like in those days when the island was still very much a semi-subsistence rural economy. Evidently it was especially good to have this commerce in a depression era!
Sadly it all came to an end. Just another episode of a long sequence of boom and bust for this island. The potato growers in Tasmania began to complain about the fact that Australia was importing potatoes from New Zealand. And so the practice came to an end, in order to protect the local Tasmanian industry.
In retaliation, New Zealand said that it would cease importing any fruit and vegetables from Australia. Because of its connection with Australia, Norfolk Island became caught up in that ban, and thus the island lost an important market for its products. This must have been a bit of a blow to the Norfolk Island growers, but at least they still had food on the table in that Depression era.
I did love the colourful picture that Gilbert created of a busy bustling pier. I can imagine the island men standing round comparing the size of their sweet tatie, the women bringing down tea and "wetls" to keep them going, and the children lending a hand with the boxes and bunches of "plun" (bananas) in between chasing and hiding, and gathering hi-hi (periwinkles) off the rocks.
Cascade Pier is still a busy bustling place today when there is a ship in, but nowadays we are more interested in what is being unloaded...groceries, household goods, stock for the tourist shops and vehicles. Occasionally there is an animal (horse or cow) to be brought ashore, and sometimes something really large like a bus.
We still grow all the fruit and vegetables we use ourselves, and do not import any fresh produce........except potatoes, onions, garlic and ginger, and they mostly come in from New Zealand!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

In recent times, I have had experiences and met people that have encouraged me to "free up" and became more adventurous in my creative activities. The mixed media workshop I took part in opened up all sorts of possibilities to me. I have decided that I do not really want to get too involved with paper and cardboard, or even paint, but there is a wealth of stimulating material available for me still....dyes, beads, buttons, laces, fabrics, threads, and those wonderful new generation yarns that are available now, used as much by textile artists as knitters!
And of course there is the computer, and the artistic possibilities are endless. For a long time I have wanted to do more with printing on fabric. Peggy at Kaliko Kottage has supplied me with some wonderful pre-prepared fabric in both cotton and silk, which feeds through the computer and accepts photos beautifully.
For inspiration, I usually try to look close to home and my own experiences. Devon offers many possibilities, and so I finally decided to make a concertina book called "Devon Ramblings". It will have 5-6 pairs of pages, with a picture on each side. I will join the pages with feather stitch, a technique I learnt to use on delicate bags some years ago.
Here are two of the pages which are close to completion. They just need a few more embellishments, and then the borders, which will probably include some script.
The first shows the terns nesting high up in the trees in the woodland. They return year after year in the Spring.
Thje second picture is of the back deck, with the old laundry and the Nigel room in the background. Bernie calls this deck "Mary's folly." I had it built some years ago because the back of our house always looked so bare and bland. But the one who mostly uses it to chill out is Basil the cat! So I must remember to add a cat charm or button to it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

This afternoon after our weekly Craft get-together, I was driving Andrea home. This means passing our own driveway, so I was puzzled to see a sign pinned to the fence beside our cattle stop. Then I remembered that it was Halloween, and our dear daughter-in-law Kim never misses the chance to celebrate something. She especially loves the opportunity to invite the kids to her place and do something nice for them.
I have not been sure how I feel about Halloween. When our own children were young, they were not allowed to go out trick or treating. For one thing, it seemed like a greedy, begging thing to do, and it was an American idea that I did not feel we really needed to adopt on this side of the world!
However, I have mellowed.
I must admit that many of my Christian friends continue to be horrified by the whole thing. Actually, I always thought it had originally been a Christian festival, "All Hallows' Eve", on the eve of All Saints' Day, symbolising the last ditch effort of evil to make its presence felt before being overcome by the power of God and goodness. Many of our Christian festivals were adapted from pagan celebrations...maybe this one has gone full circle! I would certainly never encourage anyone to dabble in the occult, or to feel genuine fear of things like ghosts and ghouls.
But to today's kids, it is really nothing more than an opportunity to dress up, to play a few scary games, and enjoy a few sugary treats as a bonus. I know Kim, with her lovely kind nature, just welcomes an opportunity to do something nice, caring and hospitable for the children she knows. Which is not a bad thing at all.
Meanwhile, I have equipped myself with a few treats and goodies, so I am ready if anyone should call. And they probably will, because our house is first port of call before reaching Kim and Charles at the end of the driveway. And knowing that today's children have to deal with too many grumpy and negative adults in their lives, I will welcome them in my friendliest voice, invite them in for a while, and then send them on down the driveway to "Devonside", where I know Kim has all sorts of delights waiting for them.

Monday, October 23, 2006

You know you have found something out of the ordinary as soon as you approach the gate. And if you are lucky enough to be invited down to see "Beef" Buffett's private museum, you are in for a treat.

Bernie and I headed down to New Cascade Road on Sunday afternoon, after Beef had rung to ask us to come and see his display that he has been putting together for many years.

It was wonderful! In a lovely, specially designed and temperature controlled building built specially for his display, Beef has arranged an eclectic collection of treasures and memorabilia, from both Norfolk Island and other Pacific islands. Some of the items are things he has picked up while working in New Guinea and other places, some of it has been handed down through his family, some of it he has obtained by being in the right place at the right time (and not taking no for an answer), and some has been given or lent by folk who are glad to see their treasures properly valued and displayed.

Now look at this incredible tangled mass of roots from an old Camphor Laurel tree that was cut down near the Mission Chapel. Who would have thought of moving it, varnishing it and even using it as a background to display other items?

Beef declares he took no time at all to polish off the red wine in this enormous bottle...and we believe him!

There are clocks and crocks, stuffed wildlife, valuable old books, old tools, a lovely old Bebarfald's sewing machine with leadlight doors in the cabinet, whalebone milking stools, old lamps, spears and masks and other cultural artefacts from the Pacific islands, wonderful old photographs and paintings. There is also a wonderful display of some of Beef's own woodturning, and he is a master craftsman in that area.

Now just outside the display room is an outside loo, fit for a Queen...I kid you not! Lined with polished timber, a timber seat, pictures on the walls, and everything sparkling!

In the workshop next door, there is lots more...all sorts of household, agricultural and carpenter's tools, implements and paraphernalia, most of it just waiting for a good clean up so it can be added to the display.

Then there are the grounds, a testimony to many years of hard work, with the beautiful tropical foliage and colourful displays. Anyone driving past this area of the island cannot fail to see how just one person has enhanced a whole area with his own personal beautification programme!

I suspect that in days to come, it will not be the official museums and archives which provide valuable information about how we lived in the past. The real historians are people like Beef, who have an eye for the quirky and the unusual, but who are perceptive enough to preserve those very ordinary things which we take for granted, until we suddenly realise they are not around any more!!

We should really value our eccentrics and our folk who are passionate about the past and exotic times and places, because the time, money and resources they put into their passion is enriching not only our lives, but those of future generations.

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